The film Pride and Prejudice (2005) brought Jane Austen’s novel to the big screen for the first time since 1940. It stars Keira Knightley, Matthew Macfadyen, Donald Sutherland, and Judi Dench. Set in late 18th century England, this historical romantic film portrays a time where the best a woman could do was find a wealthy husband.
At the urging of her mother, Elizabeth Bennet (Knightley) and her older sister Jane are charged with finding wealthy suitors to marry. Jane quickly becomes the object of affection of Charles Bingley, a gentlemen from London who has moved to a large estate in the country, Netherfield, at an assembly ball. Accompanying him is the reserved but wealthy Mr. Darcy (Macfadyen) who immediately clashes with Elizabeth. The two encounter each other twice more, verbally sparring both times. Their relationship struggles against 18th century etiquette and expectations and the disparity in their social standings, culminating with Elizabeth’s rejecting Darcy’s proposal. Elizabeth is then forced to reevaluate her feelings toward Darcy after he helps save her family from disgrace when her younger sister runs off with a lieutenant in the militia. She discovers that though she had “sworn to loathe [Darcy] for all eternity,” she has overcome her pride and fallen in love with him to the surprise of her family and that Darcy could possibly feel the same way.
The orchestral soundtrack adds to the authenticity. The soundtrack, composed by Dario Marianelli, easily fits into the time period in the film. He interweaves a central musical theme throughout the movie and drew inspiration from Romantic composer Beethoven’s sonatas. Marianelli used Henry Purcell’s theme from Abdelazer as background music for a dance between Elizabeth and Darcy at a key moment in their relationship. The music from the film also sounds like it was written during the Romantic period with gorgeous sweeping string parts played by a large orchestra. Because there are several scenes where the characters play piano, some of the pieces had to be written and recorded prior to filming to shoot the scenes.
Another element that makes this film great was the use of locations. The entire film was shot on location in England and features breathtaking shots of the English countryside, such as one of the final scenes that was shot at dawn on the moors. They also made use of English estates as the homes of the characters. Chatsworth and Wilton House were used to represent Darcy’s estate, Pemberley, the moated Groombridge Place for the Bennet home, and Basildon Park for Netherfield. Each of these homes accurately portrayed the status of the inhabitants and little to nothing had to be altered in the homes.
This is truly one of my favorite films. While it leaves out several characters that were in the novel and diminishes some roles, the film is done very well. The combination of skilled actors, beautiful settings, and appropriate music creates a romantic and mature cinematic experience without any clichés. I would recommend it to those who don’t mind the style of speaking and enjoy a classic love story.
Review by DeAnna Scarpelli
A trailer of the movie can be viewed below